Even the least adventurous among us enjoy the occasional exploration. For those who have been most sheltered, the curiosity of just how much greener the other side’s grass truly is can overcome our best efforts to be good. We do find, though, that once that first step is taken, the second step is much easier - and the third, and fourth. Eventually, our starting point is just a silhouette in the background shrinking out of sight, out of mind. This is the new normal. This is who we are now. There’s no going back. Even if we wanted to, could we?
As a believer, how can I know whether I will meet with God’s approval in the next life?
Gaining God’s approval has concerned people since the beginning. Genesis Chapter 4 tells the story of the jealousy that arose within Cain’s heart, when God had respect for his brother Abel’s offering but not his own offering. This jealousy drove Cain to commit the first and probably best-known murder.
The first step toward meeting with God’s approval in this life and the next is to accept Christ as your personal Savior. The question above begins “as a believer,” which assumes that you have already trusted Christ. Scripture is very clear that “no one comes unto the Father but by [Christ]” (John 14:6). It is through God’s saving grace and the redemption we have through the blood of Jesus that “He has made us accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). As a believer, it’s not like you would meet with God’s disapproval in the next life. Your eternity is secure. There is no such place as purgatory. God doesn’t love you less when you sin (Romans 5:8).
Having trusted the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross for payment for your sin, you may still wonder whether God will approve of your life. Here are some insights from the Bible to guide your thoughts on this.
You may wonder why churches and pastors emphasize the importance of belonging to a local church so much. Are they just interested in self-promotion? Do they have ulterior, or even deceptive motives? Can’t you just be a happy Christian and please God without belonging to a local congregation?
These are all wonderful questions, for which the Bible (as always) has the answers.
We believe that God is omnipresent, meaning that He is ever-present, everywhere. For that reason, and many others, we can find ourselves in an awkward or even dark place feeling alone and even betrayed whenever we get the sense that God isn’t as close to us as He once was.
Meet Phil Goode. Phil has a good feeling about his salvation. He “feels” saved. He has the same amount of stress as the general population, and he would never claim that his life is perfect. But, in any case, Phil has a general sense that he himself is on his way to Heaven.
Then something happens, and Phil’s feelings change.
Anger is one of the most common emotions we experience. If someone claims never to have been angry, we need to check that person’s pulse. That said, there are degrees of anger - from mild annoyance to outright rage. Also, we do different things with our anger. Sometimes we internalize our anger and seethe. Other times we act out based on our anger, usually for revenge.
If you live long enough, you will become discouraged. It may be a fleeting discouragement such as a stressful Monday at work; it may run deeper with several layers of setbacks, personal challenges, failure, or even loss and tragedy. How do you address your discouragement? Does the Bible have any insight that may help you?